Not bad meaning good: The lowest-rated cars of 2016

December 29, 2016

As far as technological achievements measured only between today and 1940 go, there are no bad cars on the road.

When you start measuring modern cars against each other, things start to look a little different.

We've rated hundreds of 2017 models this year, and our revised ratings model revealed some clear winners—and you know the rest.

To be fair, two things usually sink a car on our board: safety and style. Evolving safety standards mean that some cars just won't make the grade as they age. Likewise for style; tastes change over time.

Many of the cars on our list won't live beyond this year—style and safety both march on—mercifully relegating our bottom 10 to years of duty on Wikipedia pages and rental lots.

Before they go, let's have one last final hit parade lap. (Thanks autocorrect.)

2016 Toyota Yaris

2016 Toyota Yaris

2017 Toyota Yaris

Toyota's subcompact now shares a name with a much better version (the Yaris iA, nee Scion iA) but frankly, the world only needs one Yaris—and this isn't it. The small hatchback didn't win over our experts in style, safety, or performance. It's one of few new cars to only have a 4-speed automatic, and it's not hugely challenged by the small 1.5-liter inline-4 anyway.

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan

Unlike wine, the Tiguan hasn't gotten much better with time. Volkswagen's smallest 'ute has been around for a while and withered while the automaker deals with, um, other things. The plain approach to exterior style has worked for cars like the Golf, but at the Tiguan's price, it's just too much to ask. The current Tiguan will give way to a new model later next year, and according to us, that can't happen soon enough.

2017 Mitsubishi Lancer

2017 Mitsubishi Lancer

2017 Mitsubishi Lancer

Now in its 11th year on the market, time has not been kind to the Mitsubishi compact. The good news? It has all-wheel drive. The bad news? Pack a lunch, going over those points may take a while. Its interior has gone unloved for a while—despite a small update last year—and it's far noisier on the road than many compacts in its class. The Lancer's saving grace used to be a performance version based loosely on the current model, but the Evo has been retired for a while now. The Lancer could learn something from that.

2017 Jeep Compass

2017 Jeep Compass

2017 Jeep Compass

No, no. Not that 2017 Jeep Compass, we're talking about the Jeep Compass you see above. The small off-roader will be retired this year in favor of a much newer, updated model that somehow has the exact same name. The outgoing Compass won't win many fans with its questionable exterior style, nor with its outdated interior. Under the hood doesn't inspire much emotion either thanks to a "rubber band" continuously variable automatic and relatively poor fuel economy numbers. The Compass was significant this year for us in one respect: it served as the "Mendoza Line" for the cars we rated this year, meaning it's the low watermark for cars that should be sent back to the drawing board.

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage

Not only was the Mitsubishi Mirage one of the toughest cars to get up to highway speeds for us this year, it was also one of the loudest. The small hatchback from Mitsubishi pitches, rolls, and dives like an Italian soccer player thanks to an overly soft suspension, and the IIHS didn't have especially nice things to say about its crash safety either. Nonetheless, the surprisingly brisk sales of the hatchback spawned a sedan version called the Mirage G4 and proved that we don't know everything.

2017 Fiat 500L

2017 Fiat 500L

2017 Fiat 500L

An Italian car built in Serbia sold in the States, what could go wrong? The 2017 Fiat 500L could be a wagon, hatchback, or small SUV, but we're not particularly sure it does any of those tasks very well. The 500L shares an engine with the smaller 500 and shares dealer floor space with the newer (more useful) 500X, which makes this model a bit of a head-scratcher—and that's before we even talk about its bulbous mug.

2017 Ford Fiesta

2017 Ford Fiesta

2017 Ford Fiesta

Party! Or don't. The 2017 Ford Fiesta is reasonably average on looks and performance, but the rest of the story isn't as bright. On safety, it's clearly one of Ford's oldest models. On comfort, we'd consider finding new friends if you're asked to ride in one. To get the Fiesta to the low, low price of other subcompacts, Ford strips out many conveniences found on others such as power windows and cruise control, and the automaker asks $1,000 more to remove one cylinder from the pokey inline-4. Vamos!

2017 Nissan Quest

2017 Nissan Quest

2017 Nissan Quest

The 2017 Nissan Quest's exterior has an admirer, and we've met him. For the rest of us, the Quest doesn't keep pace with other vans on the road that look better, comfortably carry more people, and have better safety scores. Not much has changed on the van for the past few years, and that may signal that the Quest has nearly finished its journey in this iteration. Not many automakers are willing to jump into the minivan game anymore—SUVs outsell vans approximately one gazillion-to-one. That's a shame, there are good minivans on the road today, we're just not sure this is one of them.

2017 Dodge Journey

2017 Dodge Journey

2017 Dodge Journey

The 2017 Dodge Journey's chiseled shape and boxy proportions may draw comparisons to the Jeep Wrangler's, but we're guessing most can differentiate between icon and inattention. The clunky hauler is a minivan in every way except sliding doors, but unlike many new family-friendly cars, the Journey has relatively poor safety scores. After considering the Journey's poor outward vision, neolithic 4-speed automatic, or a lack of current safety features, may we suggest something in a Dodge Grand Caravan while you're on the lot?

2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

We're not here to pick on Mitsubishi, we promise. For all the good that Mitsu has given us over the years—Evo, Montero, 3000GT, even some Galants—there had to be an equal and opposite reaction. (Eds note: That's Newton's third law, probably.) The small, all-electric car from Mitsubishi wears the dubious crown as our lowest-rated vehicle on TCC at a 3.8, and it's almost entirely because it aces our fuel economy score (all electric cars do). As electric cars' stories unfold, the slow-selling, low-range i-MiEV will be an early, brief chapter. Turn the page.

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